Epilogue: Funny how time flies

Sam was struck sometimes - at random moments that tended not to coincide with one another - with the absolute and unwavering knowledge that nothing would ever be okay ever again.

His big brother was dead, his father was once again missing in action, and Sam was unable to do the one thing that had always given his life a sense of meaning. His big brother was dead. Dean was dead and gone forever. Nothing cut him deeper than that.

He sat - in his rented out, one room apartment located just outside of Syracuse, New York - and let grief overtake him. He didn't fight it - not in these moments.

These were the moments when he looked back on the last six months of his life and wanted to laugh at himself. Beat himself up actually, over wasted time and other things long since forgotten.

For six months, he'd been working with Missouri. The older psychic had rented out an apartment herself in upstate New York, foregoing employment, comfortable living conditions and the structure of her life in Kansas entirely, all so she could work with Sam.

Train the part of his brain that called upon Dean's spirit. She taught him, much as a mother might teach her child, how to let go. How to reel in that part of his mind, focus his power and stop materializing his brother.

And it was working, doubt was absent on that front. Sam had complete control over what he did with his head now. He could call on Dean to appear, but had done so only once since their sessions had begun, and even then only safely with Missouri in the room with him.

He couldn't risk staying addicted.

He could make things move now too. He had regained total control over his telekinetic abilities - of course, only when it was too late to actually help him do his job. Hunting. A job he no longer had.

He sat, trapped in this moment, and could think only one thing.

"Hey now," Dean's voice sounded from the previously empty space on the couch next to him. "I thought you were getting better."

Sam couldn't pull his eyes away from the other side of the room, the window he was staring at steadfastly. Rain was falling in steady sheets, lightening lit the sky and thunder shook the earth. "I...I was. I am." He closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them again, sounded more confident. "I am."

"Okay," Dean agreed easily, before countering, "Then why am I here?"

"I'm not sure." Sam answered honestly.

"You know this is dangerous." He kept going in a factual tone; Sam could feel his eyes on him, studying his reactions.

He defended at least that much, "I'm in a safe location. No one's gonna get hurt while I'm zoning out, and...and I'll make sure it doesn't last too long."

"So...Missouri just left, huh?" Dean concluded after listening to his brother's defenses.

"Get right to the point then, why don't ya," Sam commented dryly, gaze still not shifting.

"And Julie's gonna be in class, taking finals for the next few days, right?" Dean referred to the bartender that had saved the youngest Winchester's life almost half a year previous. Sam's not-girlfriend, as he phrased it.

The taller man crossed his arms over his chest, and huffed slightly. Dean chuckled, amused at the display. "It's alright to miss her," he informed lightly. "Healthy even. Spiritual rebirth, emotional openness...all that crap Missouri's been yappin' about."

Sam clenched his teeth. "It's not her I miss." He told him, barely opening his mouth to do so.

Dean's expression remained calm, steady in his knowledge. "Yeah Sammy, it is."

"Dean..."

"No, hear me out." The elder man pulled himself up, so he was now sitting cross-legged on the couch, facing Sam, and the younger man - driven simply by feelings of awkwardness - turned finally and met his gaze.

"Fine," Sam sighed.

"You miss me. I get that, hell, I feel that." Dean started.

"This is gonna be sappy, isn't it?" Sam smirked slightly.

"Shut up, sissy boy," Dean smirked. "You're the one who wanted this."

"Point taken."

"But you can't let that stop you from caring about other people."

"I thought you told me to find a shrink that was alive next time I dived into a therapy session." Sam recalled words spoken long ago by the exact same entity that was in front of him now.

Dean didn't even pause to give him an annoyed look. "At least we know if you shoot me this time, nothin'll happen."

"Great," Sam snorted, "Bring that up."

"I'm not," Dean assured quickly. "Besides, I'm not acting like your shrink."

"No," Sam said sarcastically. "If this was a therapy session, I'd be lying on a couch and you'd be asking, 'And how does that make you feel?'"

Dean didn't hide the smile and Sam thought absently that, since Dean's death, he had developed many of his brother's natural defenses - his distaste of seriousness in anything at all. The shift went both ways, and Dean plowed through the sarcasm with ease - he had developed it, after all, perfected and taught it. Sam was simply following in the clearly laid footsteps.

"I'm acting like you brother," Dean continued as if there'd been no interruption. "And if that means the re-birth of chick flick moments...then so be it."

"Fine," Sam agreed with ease, he didn't, he reminded himself sadly, have much time. "Then why are you here?"

"Julie asked you to move in with her this summer," Dean commented, treading suddenly lightly. "Find an apartment together. Near her college, so maybe, if you wanted to go..."

"You know," Sam remembered after a moment of silence. "I don't know if I could go to college with her. I mean, I've missed a lot. And her school...it's this fancy Liberal Arts place...I couldn't dive back into the whole lawyer thing."

If Dean were being logical, he might point out that they - Sam - was in New York, and if ever you wanted a variety of different schools within close range of one another, you were in the right state. But Dean knew logic wasn't what was driving his brother's contemplative words.

So he said instead, "What's Julie studying?"

"Social work." Sam answered immediately. "Her undergrad is psychology."

"Well..." Dean couldn't hide the growing smile. "That's ironic."

Sam made a face that shouted clearly, utter and complete concurrence. "She's cool about it, though." He shrugged slightly. "She doesn't try to psychoanalyze me or anything, and if she does she does it so subtly I don't notice."

"That'd be a sign that's she's good at it," Dean threw in. He had already decided long ago that this girl would set his brother free.

"Mostly she just listens." Sam said softly. "And she doesn't judge me, either. Thanks, by the way," he threw in after a moment.

"For..."

"That night at the bar, the snow." Sam clarified. "If it hadn't been for your protective bubble of light thing, she'd be checking me into the crazy ward by now."

"You've been telling her about hunting." Dean deduced.

"I told her that night." Sam said. "Everything." He chuckled, "Scared the crap outta her."

"Not shocking," Dean said mildly. "Cassie reacted the same way."

The taller man nodded, "Julie's more accepting, though."

"Lucky you," And there was only the barest trace of bitterness.

Sam half-smiled and made it sympathetic. "Yeah," he agreed. "I know."

"So does that mean you are gonna move in with her?" Dean circled the conversation back around and both brothers felt it - their time was dwindling.

"I think so," he still looked, however, as if he were pondering it. "You think I should?"

"I don't think you should stay alone," came the honest answer. "It's not safe."

"I know." Sam didn't think to argue, both knew that the statement had levels that neither wanted to touch. So they left it sitting there, a festering, untreatable wound. Because, contrary to popular belief, not all issues had solutions, and sometimes, time simply ran out.

"So...I'll move in with her." And just like that, the decision he'd been struggling with for three weeks, was made. Sam shook his head, his face displaying emotions somewhere between amusement and amazement. "How the hell do you do that?"

"I'm your big brother," he answered easily, "I know you. I know what you want."

"Helps that you live inside my head, doesn't it?"

Dean grinned. "Doesn't hurt."

Silence was a luxury when he was with his brother now. A dangerous luxury that Sam wouldn't allow himself for more than seconds at a time. "I do miss her," he admitted, driven by the fear that if he didn't get it out now, he never would. "I mean. It's only been a few days since I've seen her, I even talked to her this morning...but I miss her."

"And that scares you," Dean filled in the unspoken words.

Sam sighed. "Of course it does." He said quietly. Then, quieter still, "Everyone always leaves."

Dean's heart broke a little then. Because as much as he'd like to, there was no way to dispute that. It was life - the harsh aspect of life that his little brother had seen far too much of - people did leave. People died.

And if you were incapable of letting go, or if you had no one there to help - make you, even - deal with your feelings on the matter, it would haunt you for the rest of time. And if you were a Winchester, that haunting would become literal and would, therefore, create a whole nether wealth of conflicts.

"She might not." Because for some reason, with death came hope.

"Maybe," Sam agreed, only because he couldn't let himself feel that cynical. That hopeless. "Still scary."

"I know, little brother. I know." Dean soothed and Sam felt the tug in his stomach.

"You're leaving." It wasn't a question, wasn't a plea. He was just stating a fact. An easily accessible, well-known fact.

"You don't need me," the pride was there. Sam heard it and felt lighter - if only marginally. "Not anymore."

"So...I'll see ya?" Sam sounded hopeful and Dean shot a small, half-smile, half-smirk in his direction.

"Yeah," Dean concluded, forever wanting to have the last word. "I'll see you, Sammy."

The youngest Winchester closed his eyes, took a deep breath, exhaled slowly and - when he felt he could deal with the feelings of loss - cracked his eyelids.

He stared not at the empty space where Dean had just been, but at the large window across the room. He felt no depression at seeing the still present downpour of rain, his thoughts, for once, did not match the physical features of the murky sky, and when lightening struck; he felt only a vague sense of understanding.

The rain fell and Sam felt comforted. He knew, somehow, that Dean was conducting this storm just for him.


Sam was struck sometimes - at random moments that tended not to coincide with one another - with the absolute and unwavering knowledge that nothing would ever be okay ever again.

Dean was dead, as Sam would never fully recover from that. In the fifty-year gap between the time that his big brother was killed and the time that Sam succumbed himself to old age and ill health - he would never fully recover.

He would have his good periods - the time when everything was almost okay. When he married Julie, bought a house with her in upstate New York. The suburbs, just like Sam had always dreamed of. When he graduated from college, and master's degree in social work and psychology in one hand, an offer for him and Julie to join a prominent organization in the other.

After Julie gave birth to their only child - a fair-haired boy they'd named, expectedly, Dean - was the highest point in his post-hunting life. When he'd loved the child instantly, found he had bonds with young Dean stronger than even Julie did, he knew then that he might be okay after all.

Then came the low periods.

When Missouri had called to inform him - only two weeks after his college graduation - that his father had been killed. Died taking out the same thing that had killed his brother. Never had Sam bothered with the specifics of the monster, he had given up that fight long, long ago. He knew only that it had taken his only remaining family, and was now dead.

He needed no knowledge beyond that. It was over.

His father had no funereal, and was buried next to his wife and eldest son.

Then came the day, when little Dean was a mere seven-years-old, a monster found its way into his closet, and Sam was forced to shoot the sucker with nine rounds of tightly packed rock salt - found in a rifle that was forever hiding under his bed, just in case - before it diminished. A lower level thing. More of a parasite than a monster - it fed on the innocence of children's dreams. And it was Sam's first kill in over a decade.

They sat down; Julie, Sam and little Dean, and explained to their son that monsters were real, things really did go bump in the night, and he - because he was a Winchester - had the option of following a path clearly laid out by destiny. One that would allow him to become a hunter. Force him to know tragedy up close, yet experience that unparalleled feeling of saving people's lives daily.

Little Dean didn't choose his destiny that night, and Sam was glad. He needed the subsequent four months that followed that incident to let Julie talk him into believing he really was a good parent. That he wasn't repeating his father's mistakes.

He talked to his brother that night too.

Four months later, he started training his son - with a gentle hand - in the fine art of monster killing. Also beginning on that day, were the stories of Dean. The elder Dean.

Sam's son learned the source of his namesake and for the rest of eternity would feel the need to make three members of his family proud. His u\Uncle Dean more than his mom or dad even, because his Uncle Dean, as his dad told it, was as close to perfection as a human could get. And he was a kick ass hunter to boot.

Little Dean drives his Uncle's Impala now. And none of them would have it any other way.

Those moments would strike Sam until the day he died - he outlived neither his wife nor his son, and for that, all were grateful - the feeling of loss that accompanied the death of a sibling would be forever prominent within him.

He'd feel it with every breath he took, he'd be struck down by it and it would level him, each time a moment like that hit, each time he was reminded. Dean was dead. He would be forced to feel. His big brother was dead.

But Sam was alive.

Sometimes, that was all he had.

End